In the News

Illinois' stack of overdue bills falls to $7.6 billion

AP) — Illinois will end 2013 with $7.6 billion in unpaid bills, a 15 percent reduction from a year earlier, officials said Monday. Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka had estimated the backlog would be closer to the $9 billion owed at the end of 2012. more

Top Stories Of 2013: The Pension Crisis In Chicago And Illinois

At $96 billion and growing, Illinois' underfunded public pension problem is by far the worst in the nation. But the pension problem didn't happen overnight, nor is it the fault of a single politician or special interest group. It's a crisis decades i more

Retired teachers file first lawsuit against Illinois pension reform law

The Illinois Retired Teachers Association filed suit Friday challenging the constitutionality of the state’s historic but controversial plan to deal with the nation’s most underfunded public employee pension system. The lawsuit is the first of w more

Area officials weigh in on pension deal

Area school and political leaders have given subdued remarks about a recent bill passed in Springfield meant to overhaul public employee retirement pensions. more

Commentary: Straight talk about Detroit, Illinois pensions

Detroit and Illinois have both been headline news for anyone interested in pensions. The story in Detroit is that a judge ruled that pensions can be treated like other debt in bankruptcy procedures. The story in Illinois is that the state passed le more

Commentary: Wall Street has faint praise for Illinois' pension fix

Illinois’ new pension law quickly found a fan club among Wall Street’s credit-rating agencies. more

State pension overhaul moving forward

Illinois' largest state government retirement system is moving ahead with implementation of the pension overhaul. That comes even as unions are preparing a lawsuit. more

Pension reform up to Illinois Supreme Court

It's no exaggeration to say that the fate of Illinois' budget and economy rests in the hands of the seven members of the state Supreme Court.  A furious legal battle already has commenced, even before the unions file their promised legal ch more

Whitley: Pension bill a victory, but court decision awaits

Taxpayers, employers and observers should be encouraged by what happened in Springfield last week to respond to the state's $100 billion unfunded public employee pension obligations. It has been years in the making, but at long last the General Assem more

Despite frustration by some constituents, Nekritz says pension reform bill a necessity

NORTHBROOK — One of the toughest votes for many Illinois legislators was hard even on the mother of the state pension reform bill in the General Assembly’s lower house.  “I just heard it from a member of my own family,” State Rep. Elaine Ne more

How Pension Lawsuits Could Play Out

Several state employee unions are expected to file a lawsuit contesting Illinois' new pension measure. more

Pension crisis endangers Chicago's future

CHICAGO — It’s not the vision of a world-class city that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel typically likes to portray. More teachers losing their jobs, thousands fewer police and firefighters on duty, less frequent trash collection and miles of pothole more

S&P; improves Illinois' rating outlook due to pension reform

Standard & Poor's Ratings Services on Tuesday revised the outlook on Illinois' A-minus credit rating to developing from negative due to the state's passage of long-awaited pension reform last week. more

Pension reform up to Illinois Supreme Court

It's no exaggeration to say that the fate of Illinois' budget and economy rests in the hands of the seven members of the state Supreme Court. more

How Illinois achieved pension reform

The middle can be the most dangerous place to be in politics. Just look at Washington. A budget deal that covers more than the next five minutes continues to be obstructed by extremists on both sides, with tea party Republicans demanding cuts and onl more

Statehouse Insider: Illinois pension reform ain’t over yet

Tired of reading stories about pension reform? Hopeful that things will change now that a pension reform bill has passed and been signed into law? Too bad. That was only phase one. Now, phase two begins with weeks and months of stories about the more

Moody's: Pension reform 'credit positive' for Illinois

Illinois pension reforms are “a credit positive” for the state with the lowest credit rating in the nation, Moody's Investors Service said in a brief report Friday. But the firm's negative outlook on the state's A3 rating was left unchanged. more

With pension law, Illinois takes off that 'kick me' sign

The pension deal in Springfield is the best news Illinois business has heard in a while. “Best,” of course, is a relative term. A pension-reform law patched together with compromises and hopeful assumptions won't solve all the problems politicia more

Editorial: Next for pension reform: Chicago

For Chicago lawmakers who thought Tuesday's pension vote was politically dangerous, just wait until next year. Then on the docket in Springfield: gravely needed reforms for the retirement systems that benefit Chicago teachers, city workers, laborers, more

Editorial: With pension deal struck, it's Chicago's turn now

Purists on both sides of the pension-reform debate are unhappy that a deal finally passed in Springfield. Despite what these Debbie Downers say, this is reason to cheer. Conservative critics harrumph that the bill doesn't contain enough real ref more

Could Municipalities Get Their Own Pension Overhaul?

Illinois' pension law might serve as a model for an overhaul of local government retirement systems. The Illinois Municipal League says if the law survives a court challenge, they hope lawmakers approve a similar plan that would address rising pensio more

Explaining the state budget ... in 750 words

I was challenged the other day when I heard an expert say that no one has — or could — explain the Illinois state budget clearly, even to capable readers of newspaper opinion pages. So here goes my attempt to do so, without your eyes glazing over (we more

Two years later, promised money arrives

EUREKA — A late payment from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity came in time to help Woodford County offset a projected deficit for next year’s budget — albeit two years later than expected. more

How Illinois' pension deal got done

State lawmakers' complicated differences of opinion over what to do about Illinois' $100 billion in pension debt dragged on for years, with new proposals often giving them different reasons to disagree.  But when Democratic and Republican l more

IL governor signs pension reform bill, unions ready lawsuit

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed into law on Thursday landmark reforms to the state's woefully underfunded public pension system, prompting unions to begin preparing court action to challenge the law. The governor's signature, in a private cer more

Quinn signs pension bill into law

Gov. Pat Quinn launched Illinois' epic attempt to bail itself out of a $100 billion public employee pension debt Thursday, signing into law an ambitious financial, legal and political effort to restore the state's tumbling credit ratings and unstable more

Illinois lawmakers pass long-awaited pension reform

Illinois lawmakers on Tuesday passed a landmark pension reform bill, moving to address the state's crumbling finances in the face of strong public labor union opposition to the bill, which among other measures raises retirement ages. The bill, p more

Illinois Passes Pension Overhaul

SPRINGFIELD, Ill.—Legislators passed an overhaul of the state public-employee retirement system Tuesday, cutting benefits for workers and retirees in a move that sets up a likely court battle with organized labor. Supporters say the Illinois pen more

Editorial: Long way to go after pension deal

An eerie quiet filled the hallways of the state Capitol on Tuesday afternoon moments after lawmakers took one of the most important votes in Illinois history — to cut public employee pensions.  Was there relief and a deserved dose of pride more

Editorial: Vote was a test of courage

Thank you to those 30 gutsy members of the Illinois Senate and 62 gutsy members of the Illinois House who voted Tuesday to pull their state from the brink of a financial disaster.  In his closing argument, Sen. Kwame Raoul referred to the d more

Illinois Legislators Reach Pension Deal

(CHICAGO) — Under growing public pressure to act, the leaders of Illinois‘ General Assembly announced Wednesday they’d reached an agreement on how to solve the state’s $100 billion pension problem and would begin trying to persuade other lawmakers to more

Illinois legislative leaders strike deal on pensions

(Reuters) - Illinois legislative leaders on Wednesday reached a long-elusive deal to reform the state's woefully underfunded public pensions, but the plan must still win support of lawmakers and could face legal challenges if approved. more

Illinois lawmakers reach tentative deal on pension fix

Top Illinois legislators said today they’ve reached agreement on a plan to deal with the state’s worst-in-the-nation unfunded public pension liability and expect to vote on it next week.  Details of the measure were unclear today and its pr more

Legislative leaders strike deal on Illinois pension reform

After years of lurches and stops, House and Senate leaders finally struck a landmark pension-reform accord Wednesday that ultimately could shave $160 billion from the state’s future pension liabilities and lift Illinois from its status as the least c more

A look at Illinois' pension crisis, proposed fix

CHICAGO — For years, Illinois' multibillion-dollar pension crisis has dragged down the state's finances and jeopardized the retirement funds of hundreds of thousands of public employees. Yet lawmakers remained sharply divided on how to fix the proble more

Illinois Gives Plan Details for Bailout of Pensions

CHICAGO — Seeking to repair one of the nation’s worst-financed public pension systems, legislative leaders in Illinois on Friday began urgently trying to sell a rescue plan that cuts cost-of-living increases for retirees, raises the age of retirement more

Here are details of the big Illinois pension deal

Here are the details of the big pension deal reached today by top leaders of the Illinois General Assembly. I'm getting these specifics from multiple sources in both chambers, and from both sides of the aisle.  In general, the deal follows more

GOP leaders: Illinois pension fix could come soon

The top two Republicans in the Illinois Legislature said Tuesday they're hopeful their Democratic counterparts will soon have a plan to address the state's $100 billion pension crisis - a fix that could get a vote next week if enough lawmakers signal more

Pension deal still not done: House expects to return Tuesday

Although Illinois' legislative leaders say they are close, there still is no final agreement on a plan to fix the state's underfunded pension systems.  With the clock ticking toward a possible showdown vote in the House on Tuesday, leaders more

Lawmakers to work on Ill. pension deal next week

November 26, 2013 (WLS) -- State lawmakers are expected to gather in Springfield next week to approve a possible solution to the state's pension crisis.  The leaders are not giving many details about their talks but have said there's been m more

Leaders meet on pension restructuring

Illinois’ legislative leaders met Tuesday to try to put the finishing touches on a pension restructuring plan. The Illinois House is scheduled to meet next Tuesday, so Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) wants to get it done. “The situati more

Illinois House schedules 1-day session for Dec. 3

Illinois House lawmakers were told Monday to return Dec. 3 to Springfield, where they would be in position if legislative leaders reach a compromise on overhauling the state's public employee pension system.  There have been reports of prog more

Illinois' House to take up public pension reform on Dec. 3

The Illinois House of Representatives will hold a one-day session on Dec. 3 to take up changes to the state's woefully underfunded public pensions, a spokesman for Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan said on Monday. more

Illinois House to convene next week on pensions

Illinois House members are being summoned back to Springfield next week to deal with the state’s $100 billion pension problem. As of Monday, however, the Senate had not set a return date. House Speaker Michael Madigan’s chief of staff sent more

Illinois’ past-due bills climb once more

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois’ backlog of unpaid bills is growing once more and could climb to $9 billion by the end of December, officials said.  “The state’s bill backlog fluctuates throughout the year, with numbers dropping in high-revenue mont more

Opinion: Can pension dream become pension deal?

Just as a thirsty man in a desert envisions a lush oasis out in the distance, so too do top state officials have dreams of a legislative fix to Illinois' $100 billion pension underfunding problem.... more

Legislative leaders report progress in pension meeting

Leaders of the Illinois Legislature say they're making progress negotiating a plan to deal with the state's $100 billion pension crisis. The four caucus leaders of the state House and Senate on Thursday held a conference call over a plan that co more

Leaders to discuss pension mess: December special session could follow

SPRINGFIELD — The search for a way out of Illinois’ pension mess continues on Thursday when the state’s legislative leaders meet in a closed-door negotiating session in Chicago.  The morning meeting could be one of the final pow-wows in the more

Editorial: A December vote on pension reform?

Illinois' four legislative leaders have been meeting privately in an effort to carve out a pension reform deal. Only top staffers have been allowed in the room with them. No news conferences. No comment. more

Illinois pension funds get $100 million in Chase settlement

Illinois' dramatically underfunded pension systems just got a little less underfunded.  According to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, the $13 billion national settlement announced today with JPMorgan Chase & Co. over its role in the more

More Recent News

Business group: Illinios pension problems too big to fix

· SPRINGFIELD — Illinois’ $86 billion unfunded pension burden is so paralyzing, it has reached a point now where the problem can’t be fully repaired by state lawmakers and Gov. Pat Quinn, a leading business group said Wednesday.  Quinn and Ho more

Whom to blame for Illinois' dismal state?

· Still undecided about who gets your vote Nov. 2? Then consider:  Who has turned Illinois into perhaps the most financially crippled state in the Union? The Democrats who run it.  Who's the ex-governor who, among other things, is c more

“Time bomb” ticking in state budget

· SPRINGFIELD — Illinois’ nightmarish budget situation could get even scarier in the not-too-distant future.  Amid the huge backlog of bills and unpaid pension obligations, the state also has borrowed more than $2.2 billion from the federal g more

Illinois Will Probably Raise Income-Tax Rate to 5%, Budget Director Says

· Illinois, which is in its worst financial position ever, will raise the income-tax rate in January to address its deficit, Governor Pat Quinn’s budget director said.  Lawmakers probably will increase the individual and corporate income-tax more

Illinois inaction boosts borrowing costs, budget director says

· The price of political inaction is adding up, Illinois's budget director said, and it's measured in the state's cost of borrowing.  Illinois has been penalized in the $2.8 trillion municipal bond market because of the deficit, David Vaught more

News Archive

7/27/2010University of Illinois Is in the Black, While Faculty and Students See Red
7/26/2010State workers: Furloughs are unfair
7/26/2010No legislation without 'price tags'
7/26/2010Editorial: Financial transformers needed for Chicago, Cook County government
7/20/2010Illinois Failures Go Nationwide Under Obama
7/20/2010A tax holiday with doom and gloom
7/19/2010Cary District 26 trying to avoid state takeover
7/19/2010Quinn cuts staff pay after controversy over raises
7/19/2010State Budget Crises Threaten U.S. Economic Recovery
7/14/2010Suburbs consider merging firefighting forces
7/12/2010Districts try to make do with fewer state dollars
7/12/2010State financial news reads like a horror story
7/12/2010Inaction only makes budget pain worse
7/7/2010Quinn Defends Staff Raises, Defers on Borrowing
7/6/2010Illinois' budget uncertainty leaves schools in limbo
7/1/2010Illinois State Budget Cuts Might Flood Streets With Mentally Ill Homeless
6/30/2010Schools adjust budgets for state’s shortcomings
6/23/2010Illinois is Broke: Financial Problems Pushing State to Edge of Financial Abyss
6/18/2010More bets against cash-strapped states
6/17/2010Illinois Debt-Default Insurance Climbs to Record High
6/14/2010Fitch Drops Illinois, Citing Lack Of Progress on Budget Problems
6/13/2010Economy in U.S. Slows as States Lose Federal Stimulus Funds
6/13/2010Bond-rating drop should push politicians to act
6/12/2010Libraries caught in state budget crunch
6/12/2010Big State, Big Cuts, Little Room
6/12/2010Our View: Illinois continues to fail to live up to pension obligations
6/11/2010For teachers, focus is on political pension problems
6/3/2010Guest Essay: State finance woes underscores need for budget reform
6/2/2010Gov. Quinn won't say where he will cut the budget
6/2/2010Radogno: Quinn should reduce spending, fix budget
6/1/2010Quinn says Senate will be back by month's end to finish budget package
6/1/2010Quinn says he will reduce lawmaker pay
5/29/2010Going around in circles on pension-borrowing
5/27/2010Ill. Legislature adjourns, leaving big budget hole
5/27/2010Illinois Senate goes home without finishing business
5/26/2010Groundhog Day
5/26/2010House OKs borrowing to cover state pensions
5/25/2010Dems propose major cuts to end budget impasse
5/25/2010Our Opinion: Make pension payment top budget priority
5/25/2010Curtailing use of state planes not on lawmakers' list of cuts
5/24/2010Quinn says lawmakers shouldn't be 'irresponsible' on pensions
5/23/2010Yes you Can, part 4
5/20/2010Unfunded state pensions face prospect of becoming federal issue
5/20/2010Can States Fix Their Pension Problems?
5/19/2010Will State Pension Funds Need a $1 Trillion Bailout?
5/19/2010States not on equal pension footing
5/19/2010Is a $1 Trillion Bailout Ahead for State Pension Funds?
5/17/2010Potholes Cover The Road To A State Budget Deal
5/17/2010Where does Illinois go from here?
5/16/2010Springfield's lost boys
5/15/2010Pick you pension poison
5/13/2010No IOUs from Ill. government, but no money either
5/13/2010Quinn sticks with borrowing plan for state budget
5/12/2010Bill Brady Proposed Borrowing For Pensions, Now Calls It 'Digging The Hole Deeper'
5/12/2010Greece and us
5/12/2010Pass the real bill
5/12/2010Quinn pushes for borrowing to save the state budget
5/11/2010Our Opinion: Lawmakers hit new low in irresponsibility
5/10/2010Illinois Budget Short on Solutions
5/9/2010Illinois' lawmakers paralysis on budget driven by dysfunction, election
5/9/2010Fred Barnes: Public-sector employees are the new fat cats
5/8/2010Lawmakers head home without budget
5/8/2010Democrats miss self-imposed budget deadline
5/7/2010State legislators leave Capitol at a standstill
5/7/2010Plan Sponsors Pension contributions absent from Illinois budget
5/7/2010Illinois Senate approves state budget after bitter debate
5/7/2010Ill. Senate passes budget that shorts pensions
5/7/2010Lawmakers may punt on state worker pension payments until January
5/7/2010Lawmakers poised to not make pension payment
5/7/2010NEW: Delay in pension payment central to state budget
5/6/2010The job is not getting done
5/6/2010Contentious Pension Borrowing Plan To Come Before Illinois House
5/6/2010State plays hot potato with pension burden
5/5/2010Illinois budget finale preview: $13 billion deficit still there
5/5/2010Chicago Tries to Puzzle Out Pensions
5/5/2010Yes You Can, part 3
5/3/2010Spending and borrowing billions in the Illinois state budget
5/3/2010Monsters & Money: Possible Solutions to Bail Out Illinois
5/1/2010Vote Us Out Nov. 2
5/1/2010Retirees from Illinois state jobs could get IOUs
5/1/2010Panel, civic groups recommend cuts to city pension benefits
4/30/2010Without reforms, Chicago's pension funds will fail
4/29/2010Jack Franks: Gov. Quinn, lawmakers need to learn how to say no
4/28/2010'We may soon pass the tipping point,' civic organizer says
4/28/2010Ideas on how to fix the pension crisis
4/28/2010Reducing benefits, raising taxes among proposed pension fixes
4/27/2010Pension argument pits 'haves' and 'have nots'
4/27/2010The legislators-are-chicken premise
4/27/2010Despite reforms, professor says Illinois pensions are still in crisis
4/26/2010Quinn's bad Monday
4/26/2010We may soon pass the tipping point, civic organizer says
4/25/2010Springfield's costly and broken pension promise
4/23/2010Pension Financing Shortfall Is a Threat on the Horizon for State
4/23/2010Balancing the State budget without a tax increase